Allah is the First and the Last, and the Manifest and the Hidden, and He knows all things full well. (Al Quran 57:3/4)
He is Allah, and there is no God beside Him, the Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the Gracious, the Merciful. (Al Quran 59:22/23)
By Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
The debates about Predestination or Fore-knowledge of God have raged out of control in the history of Christianity and Islam at different points and there have been sects formed around these debates.
I propose to resolve the dilemma here in a short and sweet manner.
If we can simultaneously hold the following three facts to be true and that they do not negate each other then we have the mystery solved.
- God is the Creator of the Laws of Nature and those are fixed and even He does not violate them for His miracles.
- The Laws of Nature provide our free will and we are responsible for our actions.
- God’s perfect fore-knowledge does not violate our free will.
For the first point all I need to say is that in this scientific era, in the year 2021, what all the atheist scientists have to say about the Laws of Nature, except where they came from, are my Exhibit A and I do not need to huff and puff to demonstrate that fact. So agnostics and atheists with their constant focus on science demonstrate to us that the Laws of Nature are fixed and they are not violated based on our whims and desires or our prayers. Amputees never regrow the limbs, no matter how fervent their prayers are. But, they can definitely have wonderful prostheses.
God being the Writer of the Laws of Nature is for another day, a different post.
The second fact I will discuss the last and for the third fact, I merely propose to share an hour long NOVA documentary. If it does the trick for you and you are able to hold these three facts simultaneously true, then you have complete and satisfying understanding of your physical and spiritual universe:
The documentary did the trick for me and I am no longer bothered how free will and fore-knowledge of God could be both true simultaneously.
The Transcendent God of Abrahamic faiths is beyond time, space and matter. With that understanding what we consider as fore-knowledge for Him, simply becomes knowledge, as past, present and future melt away in a different paradigm, a realm that is beyond time.
In this age of information we need not keep reinventing the wheel and should exercise humility to share from the best sources, when we want to make any point.
With that kind of humility now majority of my theses can be very short.
What I want to say about free will is that it is intuitive to all humans, as we all experience it in our daily lives and as we hold others responsible for their actions, especially when they hurt us. So I do not need to explain free will at any great length here.
I will simply share a few paragraphs from Wikipedia:
Free will is closely linked to the concepts of moral responsibility, praise, guilt, sin, and other judgements which apply only to actions that are freely chosen. It is also connected with the concepts of advice, persuasion, deliberation, and prohibition. Traditionally, only actions that are freely willed are seen as deserving credit or blame. Whether free will exists, what it is and the implications of whether it exists or not are some of the longest running debates of philosophy and religion. Some conceive of free will as the right to act outside of external influences or wishes.
Some conceive free will to be the capacity to make choices undetermined by past events. Determinism suggests that only one course of events is possible, which is inconsistent with a libertarian model of free will. Ancient Greek philosophy identified this issue, which remains a major focus of philosophical debate. The view that conceives free will as incompatible with determinism is called incompatibilism and encompasses both metaphysical libertarianism (the claim that determinism is false and thus free will is at least possible) and hard determinism (the claim that determinism is true and thus free will is not possible). Incompatibilism also encompasses hard incompatibilism, which holds not only determinism but also its negation to be incompatible with free will and thus free will to be impossible whatever the case may be regarding determinism.
In contrast, compatibilists hold that free will is compatible with determinism. Some compatibilists even hold that determinism is necessary for free will, arguing that choice involves preference for one course of action over another, requiring a sense of how choices will turn out. Compatibilists thus consider the debate between libertarians and hard determinists over free will vs. determinism a false dilemma. Different compatibilists offer very different definitions of what “free will” means and consequently find different types of constraints to be relevant to the issue. Classical compatibilists considered free will nothing more than freedom of action, considering one free of will simply if, had one counterfactually wanted to do otherwise, one could have done otherwise without physical impediment. Contemporary compatibilists instead identify free will as a psychological capacity, such as to direct one’s behavior in a way responsive to reason, and there are still further different conceptions of free will, each with their own concerns, sharing only the common feature of not finding the possibility of determinism a threat to the possibility of free will.
If you are still not satisfied, let me suggest that you would need to know more about Quantum physics. Search for those articles in the Muslim Times and else where, until we meet again on the theme under discussion.